Contract Talks Open For 2,500 Private Security Officers In Philly

Contract Talks Open For 2,500 Private Security Officers In Philly

Philadelphia, PA – Negotiations for a new union contract covering 2,500 private security officers who protect commercial office buildings, universities, hospitals, and other institutions in Philadelphia begin today between 32BJ SEIU and the region’s top private security contractors. 32BJ, the nation’s largest union of security officers, presented contract proposals that aim to improve standards for one of the city’s largest and growing service industries.

“Improving pay and benefits for thousands of security officers is critical to preparing officers to better handle emergencies and support their communities,” said Gabe Morgan, Pennsylvania State Director for 32BJ. “Companies have the capacity to create more family-sustaining jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into Philadelphia’s economy.”

“We are more than a body in a uniform, we put our lives on the line to keep Philadelphians safe,” said Melvin Moon, an officer who protects a Center City office building.  “We deserve respect and fair pay and benefits to support our families.”

The current median hourly wage for the officers – who protect commercial office buildings, hospitals, government offices and universities – is just $10, with some reporting earning as little as $8 an hour. Few have benefits that include quality health care or paid sick or vacation days. Many have to rely on government assistance for health care or other essential needs.

The unionization of the 2,500 security officers amounts to the largest private-sector organizing win in Philadelphia in two decades. The victory is particularly significant considering the growth in this industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that from 2008 to 2018, the overall number of jobs in private security will grow by 10 percent, outpacing the average growth for all other occupations. Already in Philadelphia, private security firms are among the largest service industry employers. But median wages in the security industry lag behind those of other industries, including maintenance workers, cleaners and drivers.

A new report, Securing Our Future: Security Officers Standing Up for Good Jobs and a Better Philadelphia, found that increasing pay to help the average security officer with two children would mean their families would no longer qualify for food stamps. This would generate $140 million for Philadelphia’s security officers and their families over the next decade; potentially generating upwards of $231 million dollars in economic activity for Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, according to a multiplier used by the University of Pennsylvania to determine economic activity.

The 32BJ SEIU report, based on extensive worker surveys and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, also shows that adequate pay keeps more experienced security officers on the job and better enables officers to respond to – and help prevent – emergency situations. The paper illustrates how a decent level of compensation translates into reduced turnover and improved training.

As the largest union of security officers, 32BJ SEIU has raised the industry’s wage, benefit and training standards in New York, Washington, D.C. and for 100 officers in Philadelphia who protect government buildings and the Philadelphia Port Authority. With more than 120,000 members in nine states, including 10,000 in the Philadelphia area, 32BJ is the largest property services union in the country.


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